By Ingrid Bachmann
The first seven political prisoners released by the Cuban government landed in Madrid Tuesday, July 13. The prisoners are part of the 75 dissidents who were arrested during a crackdown in 2003, reported The Associated Press and ABC.
Six of the freed prisoners are journalists, according to the BBC: Léster Luis González Pentón, Omar Ruíz Hernández, Julio César Gálvez Rodríguez, José Luis García Paneque, Pablo Pacheco Avila y Ricardo González Alfonso.
On their arrival in Spain, Gálvez said, "This signifies the start of a new stage for the future of Cuba and all Cubans," according to another BBC article.
As the ex-prisoners were leaving Cuba, former president Fidel Castro made a rare appearance on Cuban television (becoming the center of worldwide media attention), where he spoke about foreign affairs.
Michael Voss of the BBC explained that such a return to the scene after being out of the public's eye is a calculated political gesture, perhaps signaling that the Communist Party's leader wanted to demonstrate that the release of 52 political prisoners was done with his blessing.
Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.